Missouri researcher granted $6.6 million federal fund to study behavioral, social emotional development

Funding from American Rescue Plan Act to bolster state efforts to develop standards
Published: Aug. 30, 2023 at 10:30 AM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - A top researcher at the University of Missouri School of Medicine is the recipient of $6.6 million to begin a program for child care professionals, specifically focused on the social and emotional development of children.

The training will be provided starting in September by MU’s Center for Excellence in Child Well-Being.

Dr. Laine Young-Walker leads the school’s Department of Psychiatry, overseeing the CECW.

The three-hour interactive learning program will target more than 5,000 daycare and preschool child care professionals in Missouri over the next 12 months.

“Our goal is to equip these child care professionals with the practical skills needed to support the social and emotional behaviors that will keep children happy, decrease misbehavior and reduce the possibility of an incident that might cause a child to be removed from a program,” Young-Walker said.

The grant funding is from the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill the Biden Administration advanced in response to the COVID-19 emergency.

The training will primarily be for daycare and preschool employees, focusing on how to help a child learn how to interact with others, develop complex communication skills and how to keep control of their emotions in a healthy way.

“This project is a culmination of years of work,” said Julie Allen, director of operations for the Center for Excellence in Child Well-Being. “We’ve had previous grants to screen for developmental delays. This project is a natural progression to ensure children receive appropriate behavioral modeling from their caregivers to ensure their healthy development.”

The grant comes as the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education works to develop how public schools will guide students in this area, and what the standards should contain.

The department is taking public input through Sept. 15 on how the standards should be shaped for Missouri’s K-12 classrooms.